SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 28, 2014
Squid, Science and Sailing
33° 05’N x 15° 55’W
Today during afternoon watch we spotted land, the mountains of Puerto Santo lay dead ahead. After not seeing land for a full nine days, the sight was bittersweet. The excitement of Madeira is just 50 nautical miles away, but that also means we are nearing the end of our last long leg aboard Mama Cramer.
All of today’s interest though was not focused on the horizon. There was much excitement in our boat’s microcosm as well! During morning science stations a squid was seen floating by our reeve net. The specimen was scooped up for examination during our daily class on the quarter deck. Our very own squid expert Dr. Chuck Lea taught us the anatomy of the beautiful creature. He explained how squids existed for millions of years before humans and are part of the largest migrations, covering the better part of our planet.
Just after class was, of course, afternoon snack. Gabo, our assistant scientist and dessert connoisseur, baked us her famous Milky Way cookies! In just a few moments the cookies were all devoured and it was back to work. After processing the morning’s neuston tow B watch made great strides on our oceanographic research projects. I identified 720 pteropods, swimming sails, using a compound microscope for my project on analyzing their species diversity along our track. Next to me, Isabel worked diligently on the compound microscope counting microplastics that were filtered from surface station samples.
We have been experiencing the best sailing conditions of the whole program during this last week. At some points we were sailing as fast as eight knots. We have even set the tops’l, a square sail at the top of the fore mast, during this leg. Making our way west, we are more than enjoying the steady wind of the high pressure weather system going our way. The more canvas we put out, the better the ship looks and we couldn’t be more proud. Lately, though, there have been no other vessels near us to admire how good we look. The Atlantic Ocean is big and these days we have found a little part all to ourselves.
As I am sure previous blogs have mentioned, we are entering the junior watch officer (JWO) phase of the program. No traffic and great wind puts us in a very good situation to practice sail handling, and maneuvering of the boat. Gybing, tacking and heaving-to are all maneuvers we are mastering to control the boat in changing winds or to change speed for a science deployment. Now off to get some sleep for dawn watch!
P.S. Hey Matt, I hope you are eating a few veggies while I’m gone! Selja, I hope Chewy is being a good boy for you!